Teeth Whitening: Techniques And Risks

Causes Of Staining Of Teeth

There Are Two Types Of Tooth Enamel Staining:

Superficial coloring. It is due to smoking, insufficient oral hygiene or the consumption of coloring foods (coffee, tea, red fruits, curry, saffron, etc.). For this type of coloring, the most common techniques are generally sufficient to obtain good results.

The deep coloring. It can be due to taking tetracyclines (antibiotics) during childhood, to excess fluoride, loss of vitality of the dental pulp or certain  dental fillings . This type of staining is more complex to treat and requires an intra-dental intervention in order to apply a product inside the tooth in contact with the dentin .

The choice of the lightening technique depends on the cause of the tooth staining, it is therefore recommended to seek advice from your dental surgeon.

Descaling: The First Step!

Descaling is an “obligatory step” before any bleaching. It must be performed by a dental surgeon and consists of removing tartar and dental plaque by “scraping”, then polishing the surface of the tooth to recreate a healthy environment and facilitate cleaning of the teeth.

Very often, in the event of superficial staining, this simple descaling may be sufficient. In the case of staining requiring other care, it helps prepare the dentition for treatment.

Over-The-Counter Techniques

Lightening action toothpaste. It is an abrasive paste which, used alternately with the usual toothpaste, will gradually and gently polish the surface of the tooth in order to remove the stains.

The “whitening kits”. They come in the form of strips, pens… and contain hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen peroxide), carbamide peroxide or sodium perborate. These products have a strong oxidizing power and allow the coloring substance to be discolored. Over-the-counter, without prescription, usable by all, they are subject to the regulations in force which impose a low concentration of peroxide (max: 0.1%) for use without any particular risk.

Techniques of the dental surgeon

Gels with a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide. The bleaching gel is applied in a gutter. The splint is then placed on the teeth so that the product remains in contact with the teeth. The treatment is carried out in one or more sessions. The first session is always performed by the practitioner in his office. Additional home sessions may be prescribed for the patient.

The products used in the dental office contain between 0.1 and 6% hydrogen peroxide . They can only be sold to dental surgeons. In addition, the first treatment is limited and can only be performed by practitioners. This treatment is reserved for people over 18 years old.

Sometimes the use of an oxygen peroxide gel can be associated with exposure of the teeth to the light of cold lamps .

These treatments should be reserved in the event of highly troublesome or pathological staining. For aesthetic reasons, the risk is not justified.

What About The “Smile Bars”?

For some time now, smile bars have been developing in France. These companies offer teeth whitening combining gel and exposure to cold light. This treatment lasts from 3 to 6 months if one avoids consuming coloring products. The council of the order of dental surgeons has alerted the national health authorities to the doubts that exist concerning the products used in these “smile bars”. Indeed, the results displayed – several shades of lightening gained in a 20-minute session – raise concerns about the use of more powerful products than those authorized (less than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide). In addition, the staff have no medical training. However, there are risks that customers should be aware of.

What Are The Risks Of Hydrogen Peroxide Products?

A high dosage or prolonged and repeated use of hydrogen peroxide causes irreversible effects on the tooth, gum and periodontium:

A tooth hypersensitivity (appearance of pain, in particular accentuated by cold)

An alteration of the enamel and a demineralization on the hard tissues of the tooth increasing their permeability. The dental pulp can then be more exposed to chemical and thermal attacks

A premature wear of the teeth

A weakening of the tooth

The mucosal irritation associated with the product caustic

The reaction with the materials of dental filling (amalgam, composite) which can degrade the junction between tooth and filling, and thus encourage infiltration and recurrent caries

A faster refill teeth. Indeed, in the event of too long or too frequent exposures, the deterioration of the surface state of the dental enamel can facilitate the fixation of the pigments.